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  1. When we make major purchase (for example, car or laptop), our decisions can be influenced by different sources of information. Explain how each of the following sources of information can influence your decision.

  1) Recommendations from friends or colleagues

  2) Information from media (for example, TV, magazines, newspapers)

  3) Recommendations from sales person in the store

  Buying things can be work. If you’re running on a budget like me, it’s always important to make as informed a purchase as possible. I try to consider several sources of information—salespeople, friends and colleagues, and media.

  The least useful of these three sources is recommendations from salespeople. This is because salespeople don’t always have your best interests in mind. I remember one time when I hunted for a new television a few years ago. I’d visited a number of large retailers, and at every single one, the salespeople tried to sell me a more expensive TV than the one I wanted. I didn’t need all of the extra features these pricier TVs had—I just wanted something simple with an acceptable level of picture quality. But none of the salespeople were very helpful for finding something that fit my criteria. Since salespeople often make a commission for selling these types of devices, they probably won’t provide you with the most reliable information. But you can still consult them in the beginning if you’re lost.

  More useful are recommendations from friends and colleagues. They will be far more likely to give you an honest picture of what to expect from a product. I’ve made many small- to medium-sized purchases based on suggestions from these sources, and I’ve rarely regretted it. Someone who uses a product on a daily basis can tell you all its pros, cons, and quirks. For example, when I was looking to buy a pair of portable laptop speakers, I asked one of the IT guys in my office for ideas. He pointed me towards an affordable pair of USB speakers, but made sure to tell me that they worked poorly at high volumes because of the limited energy that USB ports can provide. Since I was only using the speakers for traveling, that was an acceptable trade-off for the excellent price, so I picked up a pair from the store.

  My go-to source of information for purchases is still from media, however. I think the internet is particularly useful for this. Pretty much anything you can buy has been reviewed by someone on the internet, so you’re not limited to the unreliable testimonies of salespeople or the limited range of products used by friends and colleagues. Not only that, but for the more popular products, there are usually tens if not hundreds of reviews, so you get a good idea of how reliable different manufacturers are. For instance, when I was in the market for a new laptop last year, friends recommended several models to me. Using review websites, I managed to eliminate many of them based on negative performance evaluations and customer testimonies about defects.

  It doesn’t hurt to consider all three sources of information. However, there’s a clear hierarchy when it comes to their usefulness. Salespeople are ready to start off with, but you’ll want to get some tips from friends and colleagues, and in the end, verify those tips online.

  2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? As modern life becomes more complex, it is essential for young people to have the ability to plan and organize.

  Needless to say the ability to plan and organize has always been essential, however, these days the methods used to plan and organize our daily lives have changed. Our world has become more business oriented and being late is unacceptable in most social environments. Whether you are young or old there is no question that planning and organizing is essential, that being said I completely agree with the above statement.

  I was born in the late 80’s, and when I grew up I remember seeing a lot of people using small calendars to take notes, I also remember seeing a watch on almost everyone’s wrist. Those were the tools needed to stay organized in the past, no one would use their cell phone to plan anything because those functions were virtually non-existent.

  Unfortunately, as our society has evolved into a more materialistic and developed version of our past society, people have become too reliant on technology. For example, it has become virtually impossible to keep a conversation going between friends without someone fiddling with their cell phone or someone answering a phone call. Alarm clocks and other devices with power cords are basically non-existent and the use of wireless devices are on the rise.

  When we use our phone as our personal assistant there are way too many potential problems. Being late because the alarm didn’t go off due to our phones running out of battery and missing a meeting because we put something in our calendar and forgot about it are just two examples. Compared to the past I would say that we have become more disorganized. In order to solve this issue, I believe that we need to start planning and organizing like we did in the past. Bring back the paper calendars with the big red circles marking important events and start using old-school alarm clocks that literally makes you jump out of bed at the moment it goes off!

  To conclude, having the ability to plan and organize is definitely an essential skill. In order to improve our ability to do that, we should become less reliant on technology and start using less convenient but more effective methods, or at least make sure that our phones are fully charged (or charging) when we go to bed.

  To sum up, nice-looking projects tend to be a huge drain on government’s recourses. Things that seem to be practical, on the other hand, deserve more attention.

  3. Which one do you think is the most important for high school teacher (age from 15 to 18)?

  1) The ability to give students advice to plan for their future

  2) The ability to find which students need help and provide them with help

  3) The ability to encourage students to learn on themselves outside of the classroom

  Recently, what is the most important quality of high school teachers has been a hotly-debated question for a long time. Some people suppose that high school teachers should have the capacity to teach student learn by themselves while others regard assistance from teachers as most valuable. However, from my own perspective, I assume that it is most important for teachers to give useful advice on students’ future planning. My view points are based on the following reasons and examples.

  To begin with, for senior students, how to choose a suitable future college major is essential to them. The reason is that this kind of decisions will definitely cast a significant impact on these kids who are just standing on the crossroad of their life. So if teachers are able to offer some practical opinion to their students, they may probably own a better college life as well as a brighter future. For example, five years ago when my sister Jane was prepared for her college entrance exam, her parents tried a lot to make her to choose a famous normal university, because they thought being an English teacher would have a lot of free time and could take care of her future family. Nevertheless, Jane had no interest in teaching. All she liked was programming. Fortunately, her computer science teacher kept encouraging her to pick up a major related to programming and tried a lot to persuade her parents to follow their daughter’s heart. This June Jane graduated from the computer engineering major and found a well-paid job in Shanghai. The most important thing is she never regret her decision in college major selection and always tell us that she is happy with her career. Obviously, her computer science teacher played an essential role in her major-choosing determination.

  Moreover, due to the limitation of knowledge and experience, students may find it quite tough to pick up their future major. Nevertheless, teachers who know the outside world better can provide good advice to their students and thus will make their determination much easier. For instance, when I was in senior high school, there were two majors I would like to choose: one was translation and the other one was English teaching. I was too young to distinguish them clearly and just roughly knew that these two were both related to English, which was my favorite subject. One day I discussed this problem with my English teacher who owned a two-year translation experience before she came to our school. Translation, she said, was a little bit boring because a translator should sit in front of a desk and type all the time, merely having any connection with other people. In contrast, being a teacher could involve with a lot interaction with little kids and would be much more interesting. Due to my outgoing personality, she recommended me to choose the latter. She was right. Several years passed by, I have become a TOEFL teacher and I am deeply into my career. If I did that decision myself, I might choose translation and finally find it not suitable for me. So my English teacher helped me a lot when I was a senior high school student.

  Last but not least, obviously, it is possible that teachers may give some wrong advice because of their own drawbacks or an inadequate understanding of their students. However, this disadvantage can be simply fixed if we tell our students to consider other people’s opinion. As long as our kids collect various kinds of information from different groups, he or she can eventually select the most suitable one. One of my neighbor called Jack, an energetic boy, also was confused about major selecting. Actually, he had wide-ranged interests, from finance to human resources. When he asked his teacher for advice, his teachers can only give some unspecific information to him because none of them had a finance or HR background. Fortunately, Jack had an uncle who worked in financial field. He provided additional information to his nephew and thus finally led to Jack’s determination to study accounting in his future college life. Therefore, even in some case, it is indeed a bit difficult for teachers to give a profound advice, students can easily get some supplement from other individuals and finally make the best decision.

  To sum up, helping students to choose an ideal future direction is the most significant quality which high school teachers should have. On the one hand, major selecting of teenagers can greatly influence their future life; on the other hand, senior high school kids lack the capacity to decide their college major on their own. Even if sometimes advice from teachers can also have its own deficiency, this disadvantage can be solved effectively by accepting various kinds of advice from different groups of people.

  4. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement that your job has more effect on your happiness than your social life does?

  People nowadays often talk about how maintaining a healthy work-life balance is the key to finding happiness. I think that both are needed in order to be truly happy, but I am also of the opinion that one’s job affects one’s happiness more greatly than one’s social life. There are a few reasons for this.

  First of all, people nowadays tend to spend more time in the workplace than in recreational social situations, so work may be a bigger factor in one’s happiness just because it occupies a larger part of the day. I know of many people, for example, that work upwards of 70 hours a week. In my country this is quite normal. Averages out to a working time of 10 hours a day; assuming that most people spend about 1 hour commuting back and forth from work, and that they get at least 6 hours of sleep per day, that only leaves 7 hours of ‘unoccupied’ time at most. Realistically, errands will take up a part of that ‘unoccupied’ time, so the average person may only get a few hours per day to pursue their social life. A person’s work life may thus dwarf their social life.

  Second of all, jobs are in many ways what enable you to have a social life in the first place. In order to go out and do things you need money, and in order to get money, you need to work. How interesting and fulfilling would a person’s social life be if that person couldn’t go out to restaurants and movies, or take trips to faraway places? I’d bet that person’s life would be pretty uneventful and boring. A well-paying job gives you more freedom to pursue interests and activities you enjoy with the people you love.

  Admittedly, a good job can probably never fully replace a fulfilling social life. At the end of the day, we are social creatures. Though getting by despite having a poor social life is certainly possible, I firmly believe that every person needs a satisfying social life in order to be truly happy. However, this doesn’t mean that social lives affect your happiness more than jobs do. A social life will not make you truly happy either. People are also creatures that crave progress, and having a job is one of the most straightforward ways to pursue progress.

  Work not only takes up more of a person’s day than his or her social life, it in some sense is also what enables someone to have a social life in the first place. A good job could never fully replace a good social life, of course, but neither could a good social life replace a good job; both are fundamental to a person’s happiness. Still, in the end, our modern way of living dictates that our jobs will have a greater effect on our happiness than our social lives do.

  5. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Modern agriculture methods damage the environment, but providing food for the growing population around the world is more important than protecting the environment. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

  Modern agriculture methods like the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers are widely used around the world. Along with such brings forth negative effects, the most obvious and detrimental impact of modern agriculture methods is environmental degradation. Many people believe that the environmental risks should not be taken into consideration since many people are suffering from the lack of food. I certainly disagree with this.

  To begin with, despite the fact that there are people who suffer from starvation, the reason is not because of the lack of food. As a matter of fact, tons of grains and corns are wasted every year. If the government and the general public really care about starving people, they should have enough ability and adequate materials to offer help. People suffer just because of bad management, worldwide corruption, and terrible indifference. So there is no need to destroy wilderness areas or use environmentally-damaging agricultural methods to increase productivity. The world nowadays has more food than we need. As long as corruption and bad management are eradicated, the world would see less people starving.

  Besides, the statement asserts that providing food for a growing number of people is more urgent than the protection of environment. I find this statement totally unconvincing. People’s survival depends on the environment. More often than not, whenever the environment gets damaged, the deleterious effects are always irreversible. In other words, once the environment on which we depend on is disrupted, our lives are placed at risk. Modern agriculture, although it provides enough food, has contaminated the water and soil. When people eat crops grown with polluted water and soil, diseases will break out sooner or later. Genetically modified crops, although their negative effects are not obvious and not yet confirmed, should also be treated with great care, for it is reported that dogs, cats, and other pets become sick after ingesting GM food. If human beings are negatively affected by modern agriculture, untold dire consequences will arise. People will suffer from diseases and the government will shoulder considerable medical bills. Worse, the society may become unstable and inharmonious.

  From the above discussion, I can draw the conclusion that there are other more effective methods to address starvation. No matter how much food we produce, as long as corruption and wasteful use exist, there will always be starving people. Besides, a healthy natural environment is a basic requirement of our survival. We cannot increase food production at the expense of our environment, lest we are bound to suffer for our inconsideration and recklessness.

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